Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race



The puppy is going back into hibernation until February 2011.

Normally I shutter up the blog in May, but I'm getting an early start this year because Bangor Parks & Recreation has already released the 2010 race results.

Couple of notes before I cast off:

Prints & photos can be purchased from my website year round. Visit my Kenduskeag race photo galleries anytime!

There were many other photographers "working" the race this year and I think that's great. It gives the paddlers many more choices. In my particular case, it's the print sales which keep the Kenduskeag website running, so I appreciate your support!

The Facebook page for the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race was a resounding success. As of this writing, over 950 people became "fans" of the page. Thanks to everyone who posted pictures, videos, comments and questions.

Check out the other canoe & kayak races in Maine on the MaCKRO website. I plan to participate in some of these races throughout the summer (in addition to all of the recreational tripping I do on rivers and lakes).

Hope to see you next year. Until then, keep your paddle in the water!

- Michael Alden

To Darren Gray in Moncton, NB: the sleeping pup will wake up again before you know it.

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2010 Race Results Are Now Available!


That was fast. Bangor Parks & Recreation released the full results of the 2010 Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race earlier today.

Download the 2010 Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race Results (pdf file).

(Thanks to Ray Wirth of Water Walker Kayaks in Belfast for the heads-up on this, and thanks also to Bangor Parks & Rec!)


2010 Canoe Race Photos Are Now Online!


The 2010 photo galleries are now up and running!

Once again, I set up at the Shopping Cart rapids this year. While I can't say I captured every single person in the race, I gave it the old college try.

Go to the Race Photos page on my website to check out the new shots!

And by the way, the print sales keep the Kenduskeag website up and running, so thank you for your support!

- Michael Alden

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Lost & Found Box


Whether you lost something at the race or found something at the race, post your comments here!

To those of you who have lost something, I hope you are able to retrieve it. Best of luck to you.

To those of you who have found something and are making an effort to track down the owner(s), thank you. You're a good person!

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What NOT To Bring?


As a general rule of thumb, it's a good idea to leave behind anything you can't afford to lose if you're doing the race. Actually, I think this applies to boating in general.

Car keys and wallets are a biggie. Might want to leave those with a friend or someone you can trust ahead of the race for pickup later. Replacing the contents of your wallet is a mega-bummer. I've been there. And car keys? will you get home? Oh, a taxi. Great, but if you've also lost your wallet, you can't pay for one.

Cell phones and cameras are items many boaters like to bring along with them (myself included!) but if you don't need them, don't bring them. I know, you're probably going to bring them along anyway. Let's be practical about this!

If you must bring them you can at least take a few precautions. I use Pelican hard shell cases (see photo above) for cell phones and small digital cameras. They're great! Waterproof down to several feet and you have that hard plastic shell with the sponge foam lining inside for extra padding. Do I sound like an ad here? Sorry. It's just that I really like these things. I've seen them in various sporting goods stores.

Cost is between $12 and $30 depending on how large a case you buy, but it's worth it considering you often have hundreds of dollars invested in your electronics. There are cheaper solutions. Mini dry bags, for example, run about $10 a pop. They don't offer the same protection from bumps and bruises, but they are waterproof - or at least water resistant - and that might be all you need. Then there's the good ol' Ziploc bag. Well, it might work. Good luck with that...

Keep in mind, there's an odd chance you can lose your expensive goods whether they are protected or not! So that takes us back to the general rule of thumb: if you can't afford to lose it, don't bring it along in the first place.


Rollin' On The River: Stream Report 2010

UPDATE 4/16: Well, a lot can happen in 72 hours! The stream has dropped almost a foot since I filed this blog entry. It's even "bonier" than I described earlier, and the rapids aren't as forceful now either. There will be some bumps and scrapes this year, and the race looks to be a slog. But for many people, it will be fun race no matter what.
- M.

My Bell solo canoe awaits the water. Needs a bit of outfitting first...

TUESDAY, APRIL 13th, 2010

What a beautiful day to stroll along sections of the Kenduskeag Stream. As in years past, I went to scout out the Kenduskeag with veteran racer Chris D'Amico, who is about to participate in his twenty first Kenduskeag. So if you were born around the time Chris first did the race, you're almost old enough to drink a celebratory beer after a day of paddling. Just saying.

It was a nice, uneventful walk although I managed to get a mild sunburn after it was all said and done. Oh, and we found a deer tick hitching a ride with one of us after shuffling around Six Mile Falls. So you might want to watch out for that - they're out there!

The stream is on the lower, mellower side and at the same time the stream is not too "pushy".

What does this mean? Read on...

We like to start at the Shopping Cart area (the rapids closer to downtown Bangor) and work our way upstream. The water levels seemed about the same as in 2009, although last year the Shopping Cart rapids seemed a bit "tame", whereas this year that section of rapids seems "snappy". There's more force going through that ledge notch, along with a pretty good section of standing waves following.

Keep in mind that these photos do not really give you the full effect of the rapids in terms of size and swiftness. I shot these pics with a relatively wideangle lens, and the perspective sort of flattens things out in such a way as to make the rapids seem almost unimpressive. These rapids are respectable, so don't let these pics fool you!

Certainly the wave train following the drop at Shopping Cart seemed pretty respectable. Paddlers should have some fun negotiating those standing waves! But this is par for the course at the Shopping Cart, really.

Here's another downstream view of the wave train (or "tongue", as I call it) to give you a bit more of an idea. Looks like 40-odd feet of bad road!

One of the interesting things about the Shopping Cart is how benign it appears when viewed from further upstream. We walked upstream and turned around to look back at the Shopping Cart drop, and it virtually disappears:

I had to point out where the Shopping Cart Hole is in this particular photo, because you literally can't see it when you are approaching it in your boat. Little wonder that this area catches so many people by surprise. It's definitely a "gotcha!" section of the Kenduskeag.

So how will you know you're getting close to the rapids if you can't see them coming? Look for river vultures (spectators) on river right! They'll be hovering around the boulders in front of what appears to be a flat space on the stream, but there's a reason they've gathered in that seemingly unimpressive area. You can't see the drop until you're almost on top of it. Just a heads up!

Upstream from the Shopping Cart is an area we call the Washing Machine. It's basically that first set of rapids you encounter in the bend of the stream after you've portaged around the Maxfield Mill area, near Lovers Leap, where you cross the road with your boat. The Washing Machine causes problems for some paddlers - these rapids will wake you up with a little taste of what lies ahead at the Shopping Cart.

Side note: a free paddling clinic will be held on the Kenduskeag on Thursday, April 15th at 4pm. Hosted by the Maine Canoe & Kayak Racing Organization (MaCKRO), this clinic will begin at Six Mile Falls and end downtown. Shuttles will be available for you and your boat. If you'd like to preview these tricky areas at your own pace and and your own comfort level with experienced paddlers, I highly encourage you to try to take advantage of this opportunity! Meet up at the parking lot alongside the Kenduskeag Stream just up from the Mill St. bridge (Harlow St.) The parking lot will be on your right. You can't miss it; there will be other cars with boats already there. You may have to fill out an ACA waiver form (with which there is a $5 fee per paddler) but the clinic itself is free and open to the public.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter Shopping Cart Alley! Just kidding. Weird tree trunk, huh?

Moving right along. Now we'll take a quick look at the Flour Mill Dam area (a mandatory portage) before heading to Six Mile Falls:

Looking at the picture above (the remnants of the Flour Mill Dam) - wouldn't it be nifty to be able to take a shortcut through that sluice tunnel if the water was just a bit higher on the exit? Well, that's just what some of the racers did in the earliest years of the Kenduskeag! In the late 1960s this tunnel was an alternative portage. Alas, it isn't nowadays. But you probably wouldn't want to break the back of your boat trying it anyway.

Walking further upstream, this is the take out area ahead of the Flour Mill Dam, and as I mentioned earlier this is a mandatory portage. It will be marked and flagged and a rescue person will be on hand to make sure you pull out. As you can see, the water is sedate. This photo is virtually identical to the shot I took in the same spot in 2009.

And now we move on to big, bad Six Mile Falls. The favorite stomping ground of media trucks and river vultures. Guess what? The report I wrote up last year mostly applies this year as well.

So rather than reinvent the wheel here, I'm tempted to say that you could direct your attention to the stream report of 2009 (see the archive links to the right. look under April 2009). But there is one notable difference: the options for lining up are a little bonier this year and some areas are blocked by dead trees and other wooded debris.

Lots of "stairstep" ledges will make things a little trickier (at least for canoes) on the approach to Six Mile Falls this year. It seemed to Chris D. that the best approaches might be from river left, which is fairly typical if the water is high enough.

When we looked at the area, the water was doable. But given a few days of water levels dropping off, what will it look like come Saturday morning? You'll have to check it out for yourself (always a good idea anyway) or ask around to find out. Some people wait until the eve of the race to scout out the stream for that very reason.

Here's the photo map overview of Six Mile Falls I posted last year:

So what's the big difference this year? You can pretty much take out that middle arrow, for one thing. We found that between the ledges and the downed trees, the middle approach to the falls would be virtually impossible. We've never seen so much piled up crap ahead of the falls. It almost looked like some Godzilla-sized beaver built a dam in the area.

Going river left and then either setting up in front of the "jaws" of the falls (the chute area) is one option. Another would be to try river right, hitting that horseshoe-shaped sluice and spilling out in front of the weedy "red willow island" just ahead of the falls.

Dick Hanson, Earl Baldwin and Chris D'Amico "strategizing" at Six Mile Falls

Overlooking the "stairstep" action ahead of Six Mile Falls, Chris D. thought that kayakers might have an easier time taking a centerline approach to the falls than the open boaters, but even a couple of seasoned kayakers we spoke with on site felt that they would likely approach the falls from river left or right, and not through the center. For what it's worth.

The US Geological Survey installed a brand new water gauge at Six Mile Falls back in January. This gauge measures the depth of the water (among other things). Interpreting the data is another matter, but several people who live near the stream have told me that in their experience, anything below four feet (in terms of depth) translates to "rock garden" paddling. As of this writing, the stream has a recorded depth of a little under five feet at the Six Mile Falls station.

Check out the realtime date online on the USGS water gauge page. Also, note that while the cfs (cubic feet per second) data isn't yet available, I'm told that it might be added in the near future.

One of the things that kept cropping up while Chris D. and I scouted the stream was the term "pushy water". Newbies should be pleased to note that the stream isn't too "pushy" this year. The water isn't high enough or swift enough to hurtle you towards a tricky situation without giving you at least some opportunity to prepare.

What this means is that you can take a moment in the calmer eddies and pools to choose your lines, prep your paddling partner(s) if you aren't going solo, and orient your boat the way you want to before taking the plunge, so to speak. It was a much different picture in 2007 and even in 2008, when paddlers were rushed into situation after situation.

In closing, scout out these areas for yourself ahead of the race, and do keep in mind the MaCKRO paddling clinic on Thursday if you feel you need some pointers or some confidence-building skills. That's what it's there for, and the experienced paddlers at MaCKRO are glad to help.

Have a safe and enjoyable race.
And remember, keep your paddle in the water!
- Mike

Compiled by Christopher D'Amico and Mike Alden.
Thanks also to D. Hanson and E. Baldwin

PS - here are a few snapshots of some concrete canoe remains near Six Mile Falls. The engineering department at UMaine would hold student competitions to see which team could build (and race) the lightest concrete canoe. Looks like these particular boats made it as far down the stream as Six Mile Falls before wrecking on the "shoals".

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2010 Stream Report - Coming Soon


I should have the full stream report for 2010 posted here by tomorrow evening. Look for thoughts on water levels, possible lines of approach to some of the trickier areas, and more.

Also, if you're a beginner at paddling or if this is your first ever canoe race, there will be a free paddling "clinic" held on the Kenduskeag this Thursday at 4pm.

You'll start at Six Mile Falls and head to town from there (no need to paddle the first 10 miles of the race as it is mostly flatwater).

This is a very nice arrangement offered by the Maine Canoe & Kayak Racing Organization (MaCKRO). Paddle at your own pace and at your own comfort level alongside veteran paddlers who really know their stuff. Ask questions! It's all about making you feel safe and confident on the water so that you can learn to make the right choices while enjoying the race.

Shuttles for you and your boat will be provided; I will post more details about all of this (along with the stream report) tomorrow!


The Sou & The Marsh

Maine's Whitewater Weekend was a blast (as it always is). Cloudy skies and cooler temperatures didn't deter these hardy paddlers. (Or is it 'hearty'? I was never clear about this, and a Google search for the correct usage is of no help because other people seem to be equally perplexed....)

Souadabsook Stream Canoe Race
Held in Hampden, this is often a wild and woolly ride! The stream seemed to be at a nice level this year. Last year, it was a bit too much, and many people portaged the trickier areas. But not so this year - people seemed to take glee in "tackling" the tricky areas and it looked like a good time was had by all.
65 registrations this year at the Sou, according to this Bangor Daily News article.

* * * *

Marsh Stream Canoe Race
Why this particular race isn't 10x more popular than it is, I'll never know! I really enjoy watching this particular race, so I'll have to get out the boat and take a shot at it next time around.

The Marsh is one of those "dark horse" whitewater river races - it seems to slip under the radar for whatever reason. I don't know if this is because it falls on a Sunday (although there's a generous 1:30pm start time) or of it's because the race falls on the heels of the Souadabscook in Hampden. Back-to-back races aren't for everybody, and some people have to choose one race over another when they schedule their weekends.

All I can say is that if any of you whitewater enthusiasts out there haven't heard much about this race before, take a closer look next time. The whitewater "season" in Maine is short enough as it is; don't let these well-directed races fall by the wayside. This race is too good for that.

Kudos to the Penobscot Paddle & Chowder Society for safety work on this race - these folks really have their act together! I'm going to become a member of PP&CS.

Here's a crib sheet for future reference. The exact dates will vary, but the spring whitewater race schedule (ahead of the Kenduskeag) is usually as follows:

Last Saturday of March - St. George River Race, Searsmont
First Saturday of April - Passy River Race, Belfast
2nd weekend of April - Souadabscook Stream Canoe Race, Hampden
2nd weekend of April - Marsh Stream Canoe Race, Winterport
3rd Saturday of April - Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race

PS - I've posted my pics of both the Souadabscook Stream Canoe race here, and the Marsh Stream Canoe race here. Hope you enjoy them!


Maine Whitewater Weekend!

Two exciting races this weekend! Thanks to the Maine Canoe & Kayak Racing Association (MaCKRO) for the following information.

I'm going to be at both races, should be a blast!

* * *

Saturday, April 10th: Souadabscook Stream Sprint & Race, Hampden
8:00am - Sprint and Short Course Registration, Grange Hall, Emerson Mill Rd
9:00am - Sprint Start—Manning Mill Rd bridge (finishes at Paper Mill Rd bridge)
10:00am - Short Course Start—The start will occur immediately following the
conclusion of the Sprints. Recreation area below the falls off the Paper
Mill Rd (finishes at the Hampden Water Works on Main Rd/Rte. 1A)
11:00am - Downriver Race Registration—Vafiades’ Landing, Bog Rd
12:00pm - DR Race Start—Vafiades’ Landing, Bog Rd
(finishes at the Hampden Water Works on Main Rd/Rte 1A)

Awards for all races at the Water Works following the conclusion of the DR race.

* * *

Sunday, April 11th - Marsh Stream Canoe & Kayak Race, Winterport
10:00am - Sprint Registration—Winterport Riverside Riders Snowmobile Club, Pine View Drive (at the intersection of Stream Rd and Rte. 139)
11:00am - Sprint Start—Launch at Pine View Dr and drift downstream to the start (finishes immediately below Roadside Drop on Stream Rd)
12:00pm - Short Course and DR race Registration—at the Loggin Rd bridge
1:30pm Short Course and DR race start at the Loggin Rd bridge (short course finishes at the railroad trestle on Stream Rd.
DR race course finishes behind a garage-type business on Rte. 1A.

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Paddle Smart Symposium 2010

Sticker courtesy of Castine Kayak. Yes, you too can buy one of these badass stickers for your own car or boat! Simply go to the event.

The 2010 Paddle Smart Symposium is something I look forward to every spring. Workshops, water demos, door's all good, and it's all about staying smart and safe on the water.

But wait...there's more! You can also pick up some very useful tips & techniques. Or learn about favorite paddling trips and trip planning. Learn how to put together a "plan of action" in case of an emergency. Or maybe you're new to paddling and you don't know where to begin when it comes to buying a boat, a paddle, or a life jacket. There will be on-the-water equipment demos and gear discussions to help you out with all of that.

Donate $5 at the door to support the event and you'll be entered into a drawing for a brand new sea kayak! Sweet.

And for anyone interested in doing the Kenduskeag, the good folks at MaCKRO (Maine Canoe & Kayak Racing Organization) will be hosting yet another "Kenduskeag Prep" session at Paddle Smart. This will be the third year they have put this popular session together; check it out.

(And be sure to check out the Kenduskeag tips section on my website. That can be found right

Choosing which session to attend can be tough! This year, I think I'll attend the "river reading" session presented by the Penobscot Paddle & Chowder Society in addition to a "what to do if you capsize" demo which is held at the swimming pool.

If you live within driving distance and you're into paddling, you really owe it to yourself to spend some time at this annual event. Veteran paddlers return year after year and there are many good reasons for that. It's informative AND fun.

When & Where:
Friday, April 9th, 2010
Husson University (Newman Gym)

Check out Castine Kayak's downloadable, printable schedule of events at Paddle Smart 2010.

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